Cabin Fever: DIY Gifts for Today’s Hip Dads

Modern homemade gifts from the heart

By Kate Field
Photographs by Paulette Phlipot

It always brings a smile to my face, recalling my father in the warm June sunlight showing off his new, freshly ironed, home-sewn, tie-dye necktie. What a sport! When I was ten, I bought an old sewing machine with my paper route money, and ties were the only thing I was ever proficient at making. My father received most of these gems and—much to everyone’s surprise—continues to wear them on special occasions all these years later.

Looking back at my preteen self, I remember carefully picking out the perfect blends of Rit dye that would complement my father’s traditional navy suit. Now, I’m not sure I nailed it with my springtime pastel choices of pink and purple, but I sure tried.

Despite my close relationship with my father, finding the perfect gift for him is still a challenge. And I recently read that Father’s Day sales run far behind those of Mother’s Day. The article stated that the ideal gift is usually overbudget (think circular saw) so dad tends to buy what he wants. Below are some gift ideas that are a bit more en vogue for today’s dad than my outdated tie-dye necktie.

Your dad is going to love whatever you give him this Father’s Day. That’s just how dads are! But I find that the gift of making something special provides wonderful memories in its creation. So don’t forget to share these stories with your father, too. They will add to his enjoyment.

Cousin Morgan’s
Famous Rib Rub

Makes 1 half-rack of ribs

My cousin Steve and his wife, Morgan, perfected this family recipe over the years. As a gift, bag the ingredients, wrap them in butcher paper, and tie with twine. Or, for a special night in, grab some local ribs and cook your dad a feast. Serve with salad tossed in a spring-infused vinaigrette.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika (or less to taste)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne powder

  1. Preheat oven to 275° F.
    2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup.
    3. Spread rub on ribs with hands.
    4. Cook in oven for up to 4 hours.
    5. Remove ribs from oven and sear on a hot grill, 2 minutes per side.
    6. Brush on your favorite barbecue sauce.
    7. Cook for a few minutes more on indirect heat on the grill.

Spring-Infused Vinaigrette

Does your dad need a little help taking his vitamins? Disguise nutrients in a salad dressing—like the GLAs (gamma-linolenic acid) and ALAs (alpha-linolenic acid) found in various oils—to help reduce his inflammation and help curtail male pattern baldness. The addition of spring native herbs, like dandelion leaves, nettles, and horsetail, provides an additional boost of backyard super greens (you know, the ones that tend to “ruin” your father’s lawn).

For the infused vinegar:
Dandelion, nettle, or horsetail leaves
Apple cider vinegar (with “the mother”—strands of proteins,
enzymes, and friendly bacteria)
1-quart Mason jar

1. Fill Mason jar with nutrient-rich leaves.
2. Cover plant material with apple cider vinegar to the top.
3. Cap the jar (I like to use a plastic lid, as vinegar will erode metal).
4. Store in a dark cupboard for at least 2 weeks.
5. Strain, rebottle, and label.

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small handful wild or organic blueberries
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 3 sprigs)
1/3 cup infused apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey (optional)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or 1/3 each EVOO and Udo’s
flax-borage seed oil blend
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Add chopped garlic, berries, and thyme to apple cider vinegar. Infuse for at least 30 minutes.
2. Strain, if desired.
3. Add mustard, lemon juice, sweetener, salt, and pepper.
4. Add EVOO. Gently whisk or shake.
5. Transfer into a recycled bottle for gifting.
6. Shake before use. Store away from light.


Beard Oil

Many mountain-town dads work and play outdoors, leaving their hair and skin exposed to the elements. And c’mon, when does your dad ever go to the spa? Treat him with products that will nourish his skin and uplift his spirits with their sweet, earthy aroma.

1 ounce jojoba oil, plus more for finishing
4 drops each sandalwood, rosemary, and cedarwood
essential oils

1. Place 1 oz. jojoba oil in a 2-oz. amber or blue glass bottle.
2. Add 1 drop of each essential oil at a time, alternating between oils so you don’t overdue it (less is more!).
3. Top off the bottle with remaining jojoba oil.
5. To use, place a few drops of oil in hand and massage into beard or scalp.


For the man without a beard

1/2 cup alcohol (rum, vodka, or rubbing alcohol)
1/4 cup witch hazel
10-20 drops essential oils of your choice (see beard oil list)

1. Combine all ingredients in a 6- to 8-oz. glass bottle.
2. To complete the gift, place either beard oil or aftershave in a travel Dopp 3. Kit with a new razor and shaving cream.

* Note: Vanilla, lavender, sweet orange, myrrh, and cinnamon are alternate oils. Be sure the scents appeal to your dad before using.